Take A Year Off to Make a Difference!
You are serving among an UPG in East Asia. How did God lead you to go on a one year stint with WEC?
God had been putting missions on my heart for quite a while before joining WEC, and I decided that I wanted to serve on a short-term basis for a year to see if it was really something God was calling me to. One day, while I was at a prayer meeting in church, I saw a vision of a map of East Asia before my eyes, and I felt that it was perhaps where God wanted me to go. After that, I began to explore opportunities for going to East Asia, and eventually got connected with WEC. God opened many doors along the way and provided me with the finances, permission and the necessary paperwork to go.
When you first arrived on the field, what was the initial culture shock you experienced? How has that changed?
One major thing was the indirectness of the local people. I had many people being very friendly to me because I was a foreigner, and promising to do many things for me, but not following through on their promises in the end. At first, I felt disappointed and felt as though they were rejecting my friendship. Later, however, I learnt that the local people dislike saying ‘no’ in a direct manner, and will often make promises that they don’t really mean to keep.
How do you connect with the local people?
Through activities such as conducting English classes, inviting them to have meals with me, visiting them at their houses or businesses, going for movies or playing sports with them.
What does your typical week look like?
I teach English four to five times a week in the evenings. I also try to meet up with local friends at least two or three times a week for meals or just to chat. The rest of the time is spent on team meetings, duties at school, personal exercise and rest. I also try to do a personal prayer walk every week.
Describe a challenging situation and how you overcame it.
Halfway through my stint, my visa expired and I had to apply for a new one. With only about two weeks left till my visa expired, my application was rejected by the local authorities. That was a very stressful time because I was forced to fly back to Singapore to apply for a new visa, with no guarantee at all that this second visa would be granted, and with hardly any time to make preparations for the trip. Eventually, however, God opened a way for me. I was able to get cheap tickets back home and got the visa with not much hassle within a few days. This experience really taught me how to trust more in God and wait for Him to provide for me.
As a Short Term Worker, in what ways do you think you have contributed to the team?
I think I’ve been able to contribute to the team by helping to teach English classes as well as forming relationships with the local people. Though I may not be able to follow up with all the people that I’ve befriended, many of these contacts will continue to be in touch with other members of the team who can continue to meet them after I’ve left. I think I’ve also been able to serve the team by helping to lead worship at Sunday meetings, leading Bible study, and just generally being supportive of the team.
What is your advice to those who are considering to be a Short Term Worker for one year or longer?
Go with an attitude of humility and service. Be willing to help in whatever way the team requires, even if it isn’t what you’ve expected or would like to do, because you don’t necessarily know the needs of the place as much as the long-termers. Be excited because God will do a work moulding you and changing you before you get back!